Somerset Hall is the second oldest home still standing in the city. The home
was constructed in 1832 by George Kenner, a wealthy Louisiana planter
who wished to have a summer home in the upper south. This was common
among southern planters. Summers in the deep-south were very hot and
uncomfortable. They could also be dangerous due to the many outbreaks
of yellow fever and other diseases.
George Kenner purchased 42 acres of property and Elmwood Hall from his
brother-in-law, Israel Ludlow Jr. On this property, the Kenner family
built a grand home, which was named Somerset Hall. The home was designed
to face the Ohio River and was built in the Federal Style with a central
square plan. A 44' long hall provides access to the four principal rooms
on the first floor (18 x 22' each). A detached kitchen, built to the
south of the main structure, provided sumptuous meals for the family
and their guests.
summer, the Kenner family traveled to present day Ludlow. They brought
a number of slaves with them to act as house servants. Over the years,
a number of Kenner's slaves escaped across the Ohio River to freedom.
Kenner sold the home to Thomas Keevan of Cincinnati in 1852. Two years
later, Somerset Hall was sold to Richard Clayton, another Cincinnatian.
In 1885, Asa Burton Closson purchased the building. The family lovingly
preserved the original beauty of the structure. During the Closson era,
Closson Court was constructed to the rear of the building. In c. 1890,
an 11-bay, 120 foot long porch was constructed on the south side of
the home facing Closson Court. At this time, the official main entrance
was switched from the north side (Ohio River) to the south side. The
small portico on the north side of the home was added in c. 1900.
The house remained in the Closson Family until 1925, when it was purchased
by the Unity Lodge No. 478 F & AM. The Masons made a few modest
alterations to the structure so it could be used for lodge purposes.
A declining membership and the age of the building brought numerous
challenges to the Unity Lodge. In the 1970's, lodge officials began
discussing the demolition of the hall and the construction of a modern
lodge building. At this time, Unity Lodge member George Marksberry,
wrote a number of articles concerning the history of the hall for the
News Enterprise. Marksberry's efforts were credited with saving the
More recently, the Masons sold the home to the Steve Chapman family.
Kenton County Historical Society Bulletin, June 1990; Local History
File, KCPL; Cincinnati Enquirer, January 15, 1973.